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Why Deer Hunting With an AR Rifle Isn't Crazy

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Why hunting with an AR can be a revolution in your sporting endeavors.

Commonly referred to as the "AR Rifle" and most recently referred to as the "modern sporting rifle," these semi-autos can get the job done in the deer woods.

Photo via Remington Arms
Remington Arms

Variations of the AR rifle include the AR-15, M-16, M-4 and M-6 among others. These rifles all have some features in common.

Primarily, they consist of an upper and a lower that are hinged and pinned together. They are all semi-automatic actions unless the owner applied for and purchased a tax stamp to possess a fully-automatic rifle.

The stocks are either a fixed one piece plastic or polymer butt or a collapsible (retracting) stock. Standard rifles have matte black finishes but desert tan, camo and winter white patterns are also popular.

The rifles weigh between 5.5 and 8-pounds, depending on accessories and features. The rifles will have reasonably good peep sights and may feature a rail or other mounting location for optics. The operating system may be gas-operated or piston-operated.

The Rifle

Photo via Ruger firearms
Photo via Ruger firearms

AR rifles tend to be accurate and reliable. The military often shoots them out to 300 meters, and sometimes farther.

Speaking of military, there are a lot of soldiers that are intimately familiar and comfortable with this type of rifle, so why not use it for deer hunting?

So far, all the attributes discussed are welcome characteristics in the deer woods. A lightweight, portable rifle with a non-glare finish and good sights are the foundation for most deer rifles. Adding the ability to make follow-up shot almost instantly is a plus.

The Cartridges

Photo via Sportsmans Guide
Photo via Sportsmans Guide

The most common cartridge for the AR rifle is the .223 Remington or 5.56mm cartridge. There are modern bullets available that make these cartridges effective on deer. Specifically, the 60 grain Nosler Partition is a hunting bullet that will penetrate and expand.

Other bullets that are capable of performing properly on deer include the Sierra Game King 65 grain, Barnes Triple Shock 62 grain and 70 grain, Speer 70 grain semi-spitzer, Winchester 64 grain Power Point, Swift Scirocco 62 grain, among others. It is important to choose a bullet that will hold up to big game hunting instead of one designed for varmint hunting.

AR rifle platforms, including the longer action of the AR-10 style, are available in a wide variety of cartridges other than .223/5.56mm. In the same cartridge length category is the 260 Remington, 300 Blackout and 30 Remington AR.

The longer action rifles can utilize 243 Winchester, 7mm-08 Remington and 308 Winchester ammunition. There are also a variety of wildcat and boutique cartridges that are designed for AR rifles. All of these cartridges have a good reputation for use on deer-sized game.

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The Legalities

Check local laws before hunting with an AR rifle. Some local areas and states like Pennsylvania prohibit hunting with a semi-auto rifle of any type. A common restriction throughout the county is the overall cartridge capacity of the rifle.

Special magazines can be purchased for AR rifles that limit the capacity to 10 or even 5 rounds to comply with hunting regulations. There are also caliber restrictions in many states. The .223 Remington/5.56m may be illegal for use on big game, so check and double check regulations.

The AR-type rifle has a lot going for it as a deer rifle. In a state like Texas where the deer tend to be small compared to the rest of the nation and hunting regulations are not very restrictive, the AR rifle is gaining popularity as a deer rifle because it's proving its effectiveness.

Hunting deer with an AR rifle is not crazy! It makes sense!

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Why Deer Hunting With an AR Rifle Isn't Crazy